I'm the mom of a 14-month-old and I know more than one parent of a baby or toddler who uses an iPad or iPhone as a source of entertainment for their child.

Is technology for tots too much?

There are tablets on the market designed just for tots. There are iPad and smartphone apps marketed toward babies. Is letting your toddler toy with a tablet simply lazy parenting or can it be beneficial? Or is that just an excuse because you desperately need to get a load of laundry folded. Real moms (and dads!) weigh in on the pros and cons of tots and technology.


Lazy parenting?

"Not if it helps you get something done," says Jaimee, mother of a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old from California."Yes, I do feel that using an iPad is lazy and yes I do it," she laughs, adding, "but why not take advantage of the crutches out there? Moms need these electronic babysitters," says Jaimee.

"It gives you a break," says Tiffany, mother of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old from Missouri agrees. "Every mom needs a break sometimes. Even kids need a mental break sometimes."

"I make sure the apps are appropriate, entertaining and, hopefully, educational. And let’s be honest, the laundry has to get done, so five minutes with the PBS Kids app isn’t lazy or detrimental; it’s efficient," says Natasha, mother of a 17-month-old from Maryland.

It's the easy way out

Sara Tetreault, blogger, and mother of two teens (who don't have iPods or iPads or cell phones) says, "It's the easy way out for parents and it's bad for kids. Yes, it's hard to do anything with young kids around but what are you teaching them? Help them read a book or play with a toy or swap child care with a friend. Hand-helds are too easy to rely on and they're addictive — for babies, kids and parents. Don't do it!"

Betsy, mother of a 19-month-old, 6-year-old and 9-year-old from Arizona says that although she agrees toddlers can learn from tablets, parents need to be realistic. "I don't think we should fool ourselves into thinking that learning games on a tablet could teach a toddler any better than we could ourselves, one on one."

Interactive iPhone and iPad apps for kids >>

The key is moderation

"I don't think there is anything wrong with letting your child watch a movie or play a game on these electronic devices," says Tiffany, who adds, "The key to it all is moderation. They need to play, be creative, exercises and enjoy their childhood in addition to learning. Many of today's shows and games are educational and can be used in that manner."

Liz, from California, emphasizes the importance of boundaries. "I don't have a problem with letting my toddler play with my iPad. But we have some ground rules — for instance, I never let him play with it during meals, whether at home or out to eat."

Melissa, mother of a 3-year-old and a 14-month-old says, "In our family we use the iPad on airplanes only. We travel a lot so this strategy worked very well with our older child. It's such a treat to him he will work on it the whole flight without a peep!"

Tots can become addicted too

Josh, father of a 20-month-old from Missouri, who says his daughter likes to scroll through his iPhone and iPad to look at pictures of herself, says, "Occasionally it can be a double-edged sword. On one hand it keeps her busy for a few minutes, she genuinely seems to enjoy it and there’s certainly some value in her understanding technology that she’ll certainly be exposed to as she grows up. On the other hand, much like her parents, it turns out that toddlers can get sort of addicted to them."

Raising baby in an iWorld >>

Use them for education

"I think tablets are great for kids, there are numerous educational apps and the use of them promotes hand-eye coordination."

Nicole Fonovich, is a mother and the co-author and co-creator of Luca Lashes, a line of multilingual e-books and apps designed to help kids (0-4) turn fear of firsts into fun. "I think tablets are great for kids; there are numerous educational apps and the use of them promotes hand-eye coordination."

Fonovich adds, "Have you ever witnessed how fast a child learns how to use an iPhone or any electronic device for that matter? It's unbelievable! Can you only imagine the possibilities if we actually teach children how to use these devices to their fullest capacity rather than just as a simple toy/time waster? What will these kids be able to invent? One only knows."

More on technology and kids

Travel with kids: Take technology?
Best iPhone apps for kids
Children and iPads: Tips for helping your toddler play with tablets

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Comments

Comments on "Tablets for tots: Lazy parenting?"

Josie December 05, 2012 | 4:00 AM

"the use of them promotes hand-eye coordination." Seriously! WHATEVER happened to puzzles and other activities that promote hand-eye coordination? Fonovich adds, "Have you ever witnessed how fast a child learns how to use an iPhone or any electronic device for that matter? It's unbelievable! Can you only imagine the possibilities if we actually teach children how to use these devices to their fullest capacity rather than just as a simple toy/time waster? What will these kids be able to invent? One only knows" What will they invent...more mindless time wasting apps. I'd bet on that!

Talliana June 06, 2012 | 6:27 AM

We just got an ipad yesterday for the first time. It is really easy for the kids to navigate on it and I can see why some people may feel that it is OK to let the kids be on it. My son was not allowed to use the computer until he was 2. I don't see why they would be allowed before then. I agree that if a child is not comfortable with technology early then they will be at a disadvantage later on. I do see many parents who use the internet/tv/video games as babysitters so the adults don't have to bother with the kids.

kristina June 06, 2012 | 3:11 AM

I think it's great that parents are teaching their kids to use computer stuff but as for my own 2yr old. I DON"T THINK SO. It's each parents decision. All of us have different parental skills. My son is already SPOILED He doesn't need anymore vices. I spend every min of everyday with this lil guy . He is our whole world but he already throws so many fits that I am certain an Ipod would just cause more. He gets angry when we wear ours. On the other hand He gets angry all the time an of couse he lashes out at me and I never even get upset which drives his Dad crazy LOL

Lauren Crites June 01, 2012 | 12:21 PM

Not sure I fully agree 100%, the way education is moving towards technology with education apps, and many publishers now only making electronic versions of their textbooks, there is research to prove that children are more engaged in school and at home through technology. I work for an education technology company, and we have apps that we created for the ipad. We have proven that with education technology teachers were able to increase students' test scores. Now I am not saying that we shouldn't engage with our children or use the ipad as a babysitting device, but this is the way our children's generation will learn and grasp concepts, so I think it is important to give them some down individual downtime to use the ipad/computer to learn and experiment with technology, doing this I believe will help them be prepared for school.

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